May 10, 2012

Motherhood is not a Competition.

via Time Lightbox

Breastfeeding is a wonderful thing.

I’m a huge advocate for breastfeeding, and for natural and attachment parenting in general.

I agree with most of the moms in the Time article. Breastfeeding is something I’m passionate about and I’m glad I was able to feed my children that way. Breast milk is the perfect food for children under age one, and the World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding your child until age two or until mutually satisfying for both mother and child.

Extended Breastfeeding (or EBF if you are into the whole mommy bulletin board scene), helps with brain development, prevents obesity, boosts the immune system and the benefits continue to increase the longer a child breastfeeds. Scientists are finding new ways that children benefit from breastfeeding all the time.

For women, it reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, and often helps women with postpartum weight loss (until those last five pounds that stay as long as you’re nursing…but that’s a totally different blog).

A few things you should know:

The choice to breastfeed is a personal one; it doesn’t make you a good mom if you do it, or a bad one if you don’t.

Breastfeeding does not make you more or less of a woman.

Breastfeeding is not remotely sexual, weird or anything negative.

Breastfeeding might change your breasts, but sometimes for the better.

Breastfeeding in public is your right in 45 states.

(Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Supplemental formula feeding does not make you a bad mom (it just might make it harder to keep breastfeeding).

The age at which you stop nursing your child—by his choice or by your own—is not what makes or breaks your value as a parent.

I nursed my daughter until she was 22 months old and I was eight months pregnant with her brother. I nursed my son until he was 21 months old. I needed to be done. It took me another year to not feel guilty that I didn’t give them the same amount. It also took most of that year to get over the guilt of not participating in “Child Led Weaning,” or for the uninformed, letting them decide when it was time to stop.

Even writing this, I get that little knot in my stomach of, “Oh, but I could have done more. I should have done more” and at the same time I know some people will read this and think it’s weird that I breastfed so long.

As mothers, we will always want to give our children more. It’s how they survive. There is a primal drive in us to nourish our children—physically and emotionally.

But what works for one family isn’t what works for all families. What one child needs is not what all children need.

Pretty basic, no?

Then why the hell are we in constant competition with each other?

If you breastfeed too long you are a weirdo, too short and you’re selfish. Damned if you work, damned if you stay home. If you wear your baby you’re a hippie, if you use a stroller…well…I’m pretty sure your child is going to end up with attachment issues. Don’t even get me started on where your children sleep, or whether they fall asleep alone—no matter what you choose to do, someone is bound to think it’s awful and you are scarring your kids for life.


photo: Time lightbox

What makes a good mother can’t fit in a Time magazine article.

Good moms nourish their children, and also take care of themselves.

Good moms know that sometimes it’s too hot to have anything but watermelon for dinner.

Good moms let their kids pick out their own clothes even when they end up in an ensemble of Batman pajamas, a tie-dye shirt and rain boots (true story) and they still cringe inwardly and hope no one judges them.

Good moms sometimes yell (but keep trying not to and aren’t afraid to apologize).

Good moms breastfeed for one month, or one year, or four years—or not at all.


Good moms sometimes hover too much, or not enough, and they keep trying to get it right.

Good moms aren’t Tiger Moms or Helicopter Moms or any other media invented phenomenon.

Good moms are all of us who care enough about our kids to think about this stuff;

to get the knots in our stomach when we see a news story about a kidnapped child;

to make shadow puppets, play I Spy, make up stories and invent colors;

to dance with their kids to The Ramones in the kitchen and sing into spatula microphones;

to say “no” when we have to, and “yes” as much as we can;

to say “screw you” to the people who want to put “motherhood” into a box and say there’s one right way to do it.

Because there isn’t. Because if you are a mom, and you care enough to read this, to think about it—you’re already “mom enough.”

Happy Mother’s Day—every day.

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